Infantry Combat Equipment (non-firearm): Vests, Body Armor, NVGs, etc.


by78

Brigadier
Being wired showed how silly of a decision it was to have them, as the benefits over far cheaper ear cup designs are significantly reduced with a wired design. Furthermore, you add a lot of potential issues like having the wires getting snagged and the ear buds getting pull out of your ear at a bad moment.
Wireless buds are far easier to lose than wired buds. Cable management is simple in this case. Wear the IEMs over-the-ear – which has the added benefit of helping seat the IEMs securely – and then route the cables under the helmet straps. It's really simple. Millions of people have worn wired IEMs or IEM-style hearing protection while exercising and working. You are making a mountain out of a molehill.

As for making it cheaper using off the shelf tech, well that’s not as clear cut as you seem to think. Commercial grade electronics are not made to military specs, so it’s highly questionable if a earbud made with off the shelf components would be suitable/effective and or even survive shooting range convictions, never mind military specifications.
There are plenty of OTS commercial products being used by militaries around the world, and plenty have been used with minimum modifications. It all depends on the application, namely how close military requirements are to their civilian counterparts in use scenarios. China can easily source a ruggedized version of something as simple as TCAPS buds, which will be worn by soldiers, not fired out of a howitzer.

For example, it would not be a great idea to take your AirPods as earpro when going to a gun range, because they were not designed for that level of noise. The onboard mic might be degraded and damaged from prolonged exposure to such high noice levels, and the active noise cancellation is unlikely to be anything like effective enough at cancelling out weapons fire.
Most commercial microphones (dynamic) – even the ones in AirPods – can stand a minimum of 150dB. I don't see how that's a problem. To realistically damage a tiny microphone you would have to be standing close to an explosion, at which point, you have bigger things to worry about than taking care of your earbuds. The active noise cancellation is not for cancelling out gun fire; it's for further damping gun fire sounds that make it past the passive protection of the deeply-inserted earbuds, which double as
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But the most fundamental issue isn’t whether China could make these or make it for significantly cheaper (China can on both accounts), but rather on why you would want to spend all that money to design and field something that will still be 10s to 100s of times as expensive as ear cup designs or just moulded plastic earplugs like what the PLA is fielding.

This feels like a classics case of a solution looking for a problem, or maybe someone with political connections wanted to turn a failed commercial venture into a cash cow by hopping on a government grave train.
Passive earplugs or cups are great for artillery men, but what about infantry men? They are often on foot, running, jumping, and kicking down doors and looking for enemies. What do you do everytime you need to hear something in the environment, such as a door being opened, or approaching footsteps, or a command from a superior officer being shouted? Between taking in sonic cues and pulling the trigger, you don't have time to fiddle with your hearing protection. That's why these TCAPS buds are actually a neat idea. They are light, easy to drive, and fuss-free.
 
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plawolf

Brigadier
Wireless buds are far easier to lose than wired buds. Cable management is simple in this case. Wear the IEMs over-the-ear – which has the added benefit of helping seat the IEMs securely – and then route the cables under the helmet straps. It's really simple. Millions of people have worn wired IEMs or IEM-style hearing protection while exercising and working. You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
You are missing the point a little. If you are adding wires to earbuds, you are removing one of their key advantages, which erodes the point of paying so much for them in the first place. Basically, if you are wires to earbuds, you loose all functional advantages over earcups with the only tangible benefit comfort at massive costs in terms of procurement cost and performance.

There are plenty of OTS commercial products being used by militaries around the world, and plenty have been used with minimum modifications. It all depends on the application, namely how close military requirements are to their civilian counterparts in use scenarios. China can easily source a ruggedized version of something as simple as TCAPS buds, which will be worn by soldiers, not fired out of a howitzer.
Exceptions don’t make the rule. Just because something worked out doesn’t mean everything will work out. As a general rule, the more complex and smaller in size something is, the less likely it is to meet military specs due to basic physics meaning you have very small and delicate parts that tend to not do well being treated roughly.

Obviously there will be exceptions, like handheld drones. But those are generally exceptions and not the rule. And in terms of drones on particular, it is a case of the military waiving their design requirements because of the vast price difference between off the shelf commercial drones compared to dedicated military ones that they can pretty much afford to treat commercial drones as almost disposable. That is clearly not the case with earbuds.

And as repeatedly pointed out before, the point isn’t whether China can make such earbuds, but rather on why it would want to.

Most commercial microphones (dynamic) – even the ones in AirPods – can stand a minimum of 150dB. I don't see how that's a problem. To realistically damage a tiny microphone you would have to be standing close to an explosion, at which point, you have bigger things to worry about than taking care of your earbuds. The active noise cancellation is not for cancelling out gun fire; it's for further damping gun fire sounds that make it past the passive protection of the deeply-inserted earbuds, which double as
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There is a world of difference between rare/one-off max design tolerance peaks and normal designed operating conditions. For example, while all modern fighters are 9G rated, it doesn’t mean there won’t be adverse consequences if you fly a significant amount of the time at 9G rather than only rarely as is normally expected.

Also, the point wasn’t about active noise cancelling (ANC) being able to cancel out gunfire by itself. ANC is part of the design, meaning the whole package is designed to work with it in mind to achieve desired/required results. In that regards, if a key aspect like ANC cannot achieve the design required %age noice reduction that it was supposed to contribute to the overall noise reduction of the whole package, you are going to get worse overall performance.

Note that this isn’t just abstract nit picking, but is a core issue with even dedicated shooting ANC earbuds - they are less effective than earcup designs at noise reduction.

If that is the case with dedicated (and expensive) ANC earbuds designed from the ground up for shooting, how do you think off the shelf commercial earbuds never intended for shooting would fair?

Passive earplugs or cups are great for artillery men, but what about infantry men? They are often on foot, running, jumping, and kicking down doors and looking for enemies. What do you do everytime you need to hear something in the environment, such as a door being opened, or approaching footsteps, or a command from a superior officer being shouted? Between taking in sonic cues and pulling the trigger, you don't have time to fiddle with your hearing protection. That's why these TCAPS buds are actually a neat idea. They are light, easy to drive, and fuss-free.
You realise that even entry level shooting earcups often come with normal noise level pass-through features right? In fact they are actually noise amplification features. My £50 shooting earcups actually boosts my hearing when I wear them, whereas the pass through on my £200 Jabras still muffles sounds in pass through mode.

Most decent combat earcups are designed to clip onto fast-style helmets, so no need to mess around with thin wires or power packs.

In addition, if you are incorporating comms functionality, earcups provide better noice isolation both ways, meaning there is less chance of comm chatter leaking out and alerting enemies; as well as much easier additional functional add-ons like being able to easily hardline into tactical radios and throat mics etc.
 

by78

Brigadier
You are missing the point a little. If you are adding wires to earbuds, you are removing one of their key advantages, which erodes the point of paying so much for them in the first place. Basically, if you are wires to earbuds, you loose all functional advantages over earcups with the only tangible benefit comfort at massive costs in terms of procurement cost and performance.



Exceptions don’t make the rule. Just because something worked out doesn’t mean everything will work out. As a general rule, the more complex and smaller in size something is, the less likely it is to meet military specs due to basic physics meaning you have very small and delicate parts that tend to not do well being treated roughly.

Obviously there will be exceptions, like handheld drones. But those are generally exceptions and not the rule. And in terms of drones on particular, it is a case of the military waiving their design requirements because of the vast price difference between off the shelf commercial drones compared to dedicated military ones that they can pretty much afford to treat commercial drones as almost disposable. That is clearly not the case with earbuds.

And as repeatedly pointed out before, the point isn’t whether China can make such earbuds, but rather on why it would want to.



There is a world of difference between rare/one-off max design tolerance peaks and normal designed operating conditions. For example, while all modern fighters are 9G rated, it doesn’t mean there won’t be adverse consequences if you fly a significant amount of the time at 9G rather than only rarely as is normally expected.

Also, the point wasn’t about active noise cancelling (ANC) being able to cancel out gunfire by itself. ANC is part of the design, meaning the whole package is designed to work with it in mind to achieve desired/required results. In that regards, if a key aspect like ANC cannot achieve the design required %age noice reduction that it was supposed to contribute to the overall noise reduction of the whole package, you are going to get worse overall performance.

Note that this isn’t just abstract nit picking, but is a core issue with even dedicated shooting ANC earbuds - they are less effective than earcup designs at noise reduction.

If that is the case with dedicated (and expensive) ANC earbuds designed from the ground up for shooting, how do you think off the shelf commercial earbuds never intended for shooting would fair?



You realise that even entry level shooting earcups often come with normal noise level pass-through features right? In fact they are actually noise amplification features. My £50 shooting earcups actually boosts my hearing when I wear them, whereas the pass through on my £200 Jabras still muffles sounds in pass through mode.

Most decent combat earcups are designed to clip onto fast-style helmets, so no need to mess around with thin wires or power packs.

In addition, if you are incorporating comms functionality, earcups provide better noice isolation both ways, meaning there is less chance of comm chatter leaking out and alerting enemies; as well as much easier additional functional add-ons like being able to easily hardline into tactical radios and throat mics etc.
My apologies. I have misread/misunderstood your points. For some odd reason, I was under the impression that you were comparing TCAPS buds to passive hearing protective equipment. Must be my old age. But yes, you are absolutely correct, TCAPS buds are an overkill. I wonder if the weight saving and comfort are worth it, although the compact form factor of IEMs mean they could be more easily used with full helmets.
 

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